Monday, December 13, 2010

Are You Scoring or Winning?

Unless you've lived here, you probably don't understand the influence of Texas High School Football. I grew up in Florida and thought high school football was big there. I lived in Western Pennsylvania where you couldn't find anyone in our small town on a Friday night when the local high school team was playing 'at home' unless you were also at the game. High school football has its draw in many states but none of which compares to what you find in Texas.

So most Friday nights in the Fall, we find ourselves in a local stadium watching young men play football that is often more exciting than college or some pro teams. No we don't have any kids still in school. Haven't had for years. And "no", we aren't the only ones in the stands that don't have a child in the band or on the team.

This year our team is once again in the hunt for the State Championship. We've had to play a few great teams along the way. We were undefeated going into the state quarter-final game where we played another undefeated team.

This game had some interesting facts two of which were:
  • Each team had only five penalty flags...a clean game where the refs let the boys play.
  • There were NO punts in the game.
"Our" team was the home team and the higher ranked team yet at the end of the first quarter we had turned the ball over twice and we were behind. By half-time we were holding on to the ball better and we were scoring but we were still losing. At the end of the third quarter, same story...we were behind and we were yet to have the lead in the game. With a mere three seconds left on the clock, we were behind 40-35. We had the ball and needed to move it about two yards to score a touchdown. A field goal would not be good enough. Three seconds. That means one chance to finally not only take the lead for the first time in the game but to WIN!

As we go through life, we keep score on many fronts. Am I ahead or behind my friends in education? Am I ahead or behind my friends in salary? Is my house better or worse than theirs? Have I advanced as far in my career as others have?

When we choose to live by principles and morals taught to us by our Loving Lord in the Bible, we often can be perceived as being behind in the game of life. The deeper we get into our years on Earth, we can be tempted to look back and say "wow, it looks like I lost out on the big wins in life". We can see others living in big houses, driving fancy cars, taking fabulous trips and never spending one minute loving our Lord and that can make one wonder how could I have played such a clean game and still be losing.

Let's get back to the play-off game. Our Trinity Trojan team had one play to go. One chance to get the ball in the end zone and win the game. Our boys ran a play that's a staple in their playbook and easily ran the ball across the goal line as time expired on the clock. With no time left, we took the only lead we ever had in the entire game. We took the lead at the only time it mattered. At the finish line.

You may feel that you are, or have been, behind your entire life. You are playing a clean game. You are living by Biblical principles. You've accepted our Loving Lord's free gift of Salvation and are giving Him your best. Yet things are not easy for you. Perhaps even tough times seem to be your best friend.

This life is temporary. The time on the game clock for your life will someday expire. Everything you've 'scored' on this earth will no longer matter. When you take the last snap for the last play of your life, if you cross the goal line with Christ as your savior, you will be the WINNER!!!!

LITTLE LESSON LIFE EXPRESSION
What will you focus on? Are you set on making every score here on earth? Or are you storing up points for the eternal victory? If you've been focused only on winning earthly victories, will you pause and ask our Loving Lord to coach you on to the final goal line poised to win the ultimate championship?

Ecclesiastes 9:11-13 (Amplified Bible)  I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all

Monday, November 29, 2010

Home for Heroes or Hospital for Hurters

Imagine this: It's a beautiful Sunday morning. You are gathering with your family and friends to worship at your local church.


In walks one lone visitor. No one knows the visitor. No one knows anything about the visitor.


Imagine this visitor in your mind. Imagine what the visitor might be like. Imagine the type of person you 'hope' this visitor will be.


What kind of visitor are you and your fellow church members most prepared for...a hero or a hurter?


A hero of the faith? A strong believer that knows scripture inside and out? Someone that can teach a class, lead a study, give financially? You know how to welcome this visitor and make them feel welcome, right? Do you hope the visitor that is a hero that has come home?


Or....


Are you prepared for hurter that needs a hospital? A person who has unspeakable hurts? A person living with a secret no one understands? Someone who needs to know that they are loved? Someone that doesn't know Genesis from Galatians? Are you prepared to be a hospital for the hurting?


Newsflash: Both come to your church each and every week. Most are members...a few are visitors. It's easy to spot those among you who are modern day heroes of the faith. It's not usually easy to spot the hurting.


Why?



The hurting that are your friends and have been in your church family for years walk into the church with their church faces on and may not open the windows to their soul to let you see the pain inside. Others have shared the surface of their hurts with some in your congregation only to be discounted or ignored ... ignored out of ignorance ... many times when we don't know how to respond to someone's hurt, we just don't respond at all. We look the other way and hope their problem will go away on it's own. Unfortunately, the loneliest place in the world for some hurting people will be inside your church, sitting next to you in the pew.


Little Lesson Life Expression
How will you help your church become a hospital for the hurting? Are you willing to be a caregiver in this hospital for the hurting but don't know where to start?


Want a few suggestions?


  • Pray first. Alone. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs in front of you. (Between you and God...not between you and your best friend on earth.)
  • Watch. Really see the people you say 'hello' to. See them. Listen to them. Hear them. "I'm fine" rarely means I'm fine.
  • Look around. See who isn't present today. This may be someone who is hurting too bad to even show up.
  • Be open. When you see and hear what people are really saying, don't pre-judge their situation. Remember they are hurting people. Right now they need your love, not your judgement.
  • Shut up. Don't shut down but shut up. Let them know if they want to talk, you'll listen and you'll keep what they say confidential.
  • Follow-up. When you've been blessed enough to have someone open up their wounds to you, there is one person you should discuss this with a few days later. Who? The very person who opened up to you. Call them to let them know you really care. Or email them. Or send them a card...a real card...via snail mail. Let them know you will be there for them. Reassure them that you're keeping their confidence. 
  • Refer if needed. You don't need to have all the answers. You may need to help them get professional help. In the meantime you can still listen. And after you listen, you can pray. 


Galatians 6:1-10 (The Message)

 1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
 6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
 7-8Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
 9-10So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.





Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why Bother With Housework?

Today my husband and son are at the Nascar race so I have the house to myself, if you don't count the cats.


If you know me well, you know housework and me do not get along at all. In fact, most of the time I just don't do it...which is why I call myself the world's worst housekeeper.


But...


Since I had the house to myself, I said to myself, "Self! Let's sweep and mop the kitchen floor!"


Self agreed and we began. A short while later we were done and I was putting everything back in place...the rugs, the chairs, the trash can...then the cats food and water dishes...the water was back in place fine so it was time to set down the rather large size self-feeder that holds the cat's food.


Right as I sat it down...the bottom came off...and the cat food went everywhere...all over my freshly swept and mopped floor. 


I honestly said absolutely nothing. I just picked up the water bowl and emptied it out. Some of the spilled food had gone for a swim. Next I picked up the broom and dust pan and swept up the rest of the food. Finally I refilled both the water bowl and the feeder.


It would have been so much easier to just not sweep and mop in the first place.


It reminded me of the last time I cleaned the shelves in the refrigerator. I had just washed the last removable shelf and was preparing to return it to the fridge. And in a nano-second, the glass slipped off the frame and shattered on the floor. It was in a million pieces. That time I stood there and cried.


Little Lesson Life Expression
How often does God come into our lives and clean us up only for us to rely on ourselves instead of Him? So we slip away and make a mess of things or shatter into pieces. How much better would we be if we relied on His grip and His grace instead of thinking we know better than Him what is best for us?


Psalm 34:18 (The Message) If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath.